The man who allegedly caused thousands of dollars in damage and terrorized several late-night patrons at a New York City McDonald's has been released without bail.
According to the criminal complaint, Michael Palacios, 31, used an ax to smash up various surfaces and two panes of glass in a Lower East Side McDonald's around 2:30 a.m. local time Friday morning.
A video of the incident, which has since gone viral, indicates that Palacios became frustrated when a woman there "rejected" his advances. The man who filmed the video, Uber Eats deliveryman Ruben G, told the New York Post, "So, basically he got into an argument with a girl, and then the girl rejected him. She didn’t want to talk to him. He kept going at her."
As Palacios continued to pester the woman, several men stood up to intervene on her behalf. The men attempted to restrain Palacios, who then turned his aggression towards them. The men then punched him in the head a few times in retaliation, though Palacios himself appeared unaffected by the assault. Once the men backed off, Palacios reached into his backpack, took out what he called a "tomahawk," and began smashing a couple tables, including the one at which the unidentified woman he had targeted earlier was sitting.
He also smashed a glass partition and punched one of the men in the head. Palacios, a messenger, then retrieved his bike and rode away. Police apprehended him soon after.
"The suspect intentionally caused property damage to the establishment," a police spokesperson said. "The individual was taken into custody by responding officers. [During a] search incident to a lawful arrest, an additional knife was recovered from his backpack. Victims did not report any injuries."
Prosecutors have charged Palacios with fourth-degree criminal mischief and possession of weapons, neither of which qualify for bail in New York state, where criminal justice laws are lax.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin has condemned the criminal justice reform measures which released Palacios back to the street without bail.
"This guy hacked up tables and walls at a McDonald’s, swung his hatchet wildly at customers, and got released before his fries got cold," Zeldin quipped. "Cashless bail in New York must be repealed ASAP!"
Palacios has since spoken with reporters to give his version of events.
"My intentions were not to hurt anyone," Palacios said. "My intentions were not to put anyone in the hospital or dice anybody up.
"The reason why I pulled out the hatchet was, ‘Ok, I’m gonna get back at these guys,'" Palacios continued. "'I’m gonna make sure that they don’t jump me again.'"
Palacios admitted that he had been drinking earlier that evening, and that a security guard at the McDonald's wouldn't let him use the restroom.
He said he does not want to see the other men involved in the altercation charged with a crime.
"You don’t need to be in jail for a lesson," he said. "I hope the fear they felt that night is enough to never assault someone again."